DIY aluminum heat sink casting

[Peter Wirasnik] has been casting his own aluminum heat sinks. He’s working on capturing the heat from a car’s exhaust system and turning it into electricity, kind of like the candle generator. In the photo above a standard heat sink is bolted to one side of a Peltier cooler with [Peter’s] own casting on the bottom. That casting will connect to the exhaust pipe and transfer heat to the Peltier while the other heat sink keeps the opposite side relatively cool. What results is a voltage between 600mV and 1V.

We’re not quite sure what the end product will be but the casting process is fascinating. He carves the shape of the piece he wants to cast from Styrofoam and embeds it in a box of sand. He then melts salvaged aluminum in a cast iron frying pan using what looks like a propane torch. Once molten, he pours the aluminum into the mold and it burns away the Styrofoam as it fills the void. A little cleanup and he’s got the heat conductive mounting bracket he was after.

Generate electricity with a candle

What you see above is a generator that converts heat to electricity. [Reukpower’s] thermoelectric lamp is one of those hacks that makes you scratch your head even though you understand why it should work. The heart of the system uses a Peltier cool, just like the thermoelectric solar generator. When there is a temperature differential from one side of the Peltier to the other a small current is generated.

In this case a candle heats one side and a heat sink cools the other. The tiny voltage picked up from the Peltier’s contacts is then boosted using a joule thief. We’ve seen LEDs powered with a joule thief before, benefiting from their own low power consumption. In this case, the boost circuit is scavenged from an emergency phone charger and probably achieves higher efficiency than if he had built it himself.

Camera peltier cooler


[Gary Honis] has been modifying his Canon Digital Rebel XSi in order to do astrophotography. He previously removed the IR filter and replaced it with a Baader UV-IR cut filter that lets most infrared light through. However, in order to reduce noise in the pictures, he had to cool the camera down. He based the project on a peltier cooler that he salvaged from a powered beverage cooler. He made a small aluminum box and insulated it with styrofoam to hold the camera body. The peltier cooler was then attached on the side. It takes just over an hour to cool the camera down to 40 degrees, but the shots come out a lot clearer.

[thanks adam]